“Blue Courage” class addresses emotional health of employees at Richmond County Sheriff’s Office

Deputies in Richmond County are learning about managing their mental and emotional health at a class called "Blue Courage."
Deputies in Richmond County are learning about managing their mental and emotional health at a class called "Blue Courage."

BLYTHE, Ga. (WJBF)- Law enforcement isn’t just a career– it’ a lifestyle.

“I wish that somebody had maybe told me that these changes were going to take place and, that just by dealing with some of the things that we have to deal with…the byproduct of the job could be cynicism,” said Richmond County Maj. Steve Strickland, who teaches Blue Courage.

Those who work in law enforcement have a high rate of divorce, suicide, addiction and a below-average life expectancy.The 16-hour Blue Courage class addresses the sometimes overwhelming challenges deputies face.

“This class really does speak more about the ability to understand the changes that we go through, the stressors, and react to it,” Strickland said.

One of the major themes of the class is how the profession can harden you and how you can counter the cynicism that creeps in.

“The jail was definitely a culture shock when I started,” said Deputy John Dewey of the Jail Division of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.  “Because a lot of the guys in jail are just so used to that, and I go in there and I’m like this is not something you should be used to.”

For some, what they deal with on the job can follow them home.

“We see good people at their worst, and we see bad people at their worst,” Strickland said. “So there’s a tendency to view maybe everyone through that prism of,  you know, just the worst that people have at any given moment.”

Blue Courage starts a conversation about these issues, inviting deputies to examine their actions, stressors and feelings.

“I think it’s actually more important for those of us who have been doing this for decades to remind us of truly why we got into this job,” said Capt. Bill Probus of the Standards & Training division of the Sheriff’s Office.

At the end of the day, Blue Courage allows deputies to reflect on the positive aspects of their service and sacrifice.

“This’ll give some guys a chance to hopefully look back and think this is ultimately worth it,” Strickland said.

All employees of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office are taking Blue Courage.

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